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Shelter in new attack on private landlords who house homeless

Campaigning charity Shelter is back on the warpath against private landlords, criticising how much of the country’s temporary accommodation budget for the homeless is spent within the private rental sector.

Government figures show almost £1.2 billion has been spent providing temporary accommodation for homeless households between April 2019 and March 2020. 

This has increased by nine per cent in the last year and 55 per cent in the last five years.  


Of the total spent on temporary accommodation by councils in England last year, Shelter claims that 87 per cent of it went to private landlords, letting agents or companies. 

The amount of money being paid to these private accommodation providers has increased 66 per cent in the last five years from £621m in 2014/15 to £1 billion in 2019/20. 

Some 38 per cent of the money paid to private accommodation providers was spent on emergency B&Bs – a 73 per cent rise in five years. 

“It is outrageous that almost £1.2 billion a year is spent on often shoddy and expensive temporary accommodation because of the lack of social homes. It’s a false economy for taxpayers’ money to be used to pay private landlords for grotty emergency B&Bs, which can be so terrible to live in that families end up deeply traumatised” claims Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter.

She then switches her attack to the shortage of social housing.

“The decades of failure to build social homes means too many people on lower incomes are stuck in unstable private rentals – increasing their chances of becoming homeless. 



“This cycle of destitution persists when those who lose their homes turn to the council for help, because councils have so little social housing left that they can’t alleviate their homelessness for good. All they can do is pay over the odds for insecure temporary accommodation.

“If the government fails to act on this crisis, the economic chaos of the pandemic is only going to make what is already an awful situation worse, as even more people are forced into homelessness.”

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    I don't know about others on here but I wouldn't touch a homeless person referred by a council, that's the local council's problem not mine, maybe shelter could house them ??


    "I wouldn't touch a homeless person....." "That's the local council's problem, not mine". Oh dear. Not much empathy in those statements. I do hope you yourself don't fall into dire straits at some point in the future, Andrew.
    (By the way, Shelter is a campaigning organisation, it does not deal directly with homeless individuals .............)


    Shelter. The charity (business )that houses no one.


    @ David Wirth, trust me I will never be in those kind of dire straits as you put it David.



    In my experience, sheer hard work and initiative are all that is required to guarantee not ending up in dire straits.

    There has never been such a shortage of people ready and willing to do an honest day's work, or such a glut of feckless work dodgers in the UK.

    That is why so many people want to come here from other countries where they don't mollycoddle the work-shy.

    Incidentally is Shelter deliberately campaigning against decent tenants, or just too stupid to realise that they are the people most harmed by their "campaigning"?


    I took a homeless person into an HMO after discussing it with the other tenants. The guy turned out to be one of the best tenants I've ever had and even became a good friend. Alas some time later I found him dead in his bed after suffering a heart attack.

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    • 26 October 2020 07:27 AM

    Most tenants are homeless because of rent defaulting.
    If Councils ensured sufficient DHP were made then many LL WOULDN'T bother repossessing their properties.

    Many LL would take on DSS tenants but for about an extra £200pcm which Councils refuse to pay.

    So they end up paying far more in TA than the relatively far smaller amount required by the LL.

    Tenants could move to cheaper areas but many refuse to do so as they game the system hoping that TA will eventually lead to a social home.

    Essentially they attempt to engineer these circumstances with the LL inevitably suffering immense financial loss.

    It is no wonder that many LL refuse to have anything to do with these types.

    Also why should a homeless person jump the social housing queue.

    Forget housing on need it should be where on the list you are as it used to be.

  • Matthew Payne

    For once, she is right. As an example, in 2004 the UK population was 60m. Today it is 66m, an increase of 6m in 16 years. In those same 16 years we have built 2.284m new homes, 1.871m of which have been private, and only 412,000 of which you would call social housing. But that's not all. In spite of these new units, the total number of social housing units stands at 4.1m down from its peak at 4.4m as councils themselves demolish old units (so in effect zero net gain), and right to buy eats into the total.

    Since 1997 the population has increased by 14% whilst the number of social units has dropped by 7% in the same 23 years.

    With the governments current consultation on relaxing the requirement for developers even further, I'm not sure what the plan is, especially when access to the PRS is going to become even more difficult after recent pieces of legislation.

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    She conveniently forgets to mention that it is the abject failure of local councils to ensure the standard of accommodation is up to scratch, you can't put people in poor flats and then complain about it afterward.

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    uk popn=90 million--80 million in england

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Surely Landlords are simply filling a demand- so this has nothing to do with landlords servicing this sector and everything to do with how councils facilitate this. Who does Polly think should provide this missing accommodation and at what rate? I've said for years- Shelter could offer an indemnity policy underwriting the risk associated with homeless, DSS and low-income tenants delivering a real value & tangible solution and opening up the market. Simple, low-cost solution that would make a real difference and would me a marginal cost for the value it would deliver.

    • 26 October 2020 13:57 PM

    Shelter know that feckless rent defaulting tenants cost LL £9 billion a year.

    Shelter will hardly underwrite such losses!!

    Now just imagine how losses would massively reduce if via a very fast track S21 with no Court action required a rent defaulting tenant could be removed by the LL with Police assistance if necessary 14 days after 2 months rent default!?

    Losses would reduce to a few million

  • EverythingPRS

    I think her comments are mainly directed toward the government, and another stab at the ongoing debate/ issue around the lack of social housing...

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    Many are in Temporary Accommodation as a step to getting Housed by council, they all want to be on the Council to get subsidized or free Housing & Benefits, some don't need to be there but the system is made to be abused that's why people cross other European Country's and risk their lives to get here, time to change this unsustainable system.
    Shelters mentions about the £1.2b spent in a year on temporary housing for the homeless they forgot to say how much of a hit Private Landlords have taken with Rent arrears or in my case 40 individuals are in arrears rising monthly and I am only one Landlord in no big way..

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    • 26 October 2020 18:17 PM

    Even as a private LL I accept that there is a need for millions of social housing.

    My issue is it goes to the wrong people.

    Social housing should be allocated to hard working low wage earners.

    The route to social housing should be via work.

    Obviously not those who genuinely can't work.

    That means anyone with alleged anxiety and depression doesn't count.
    They can be anxious and depressed picking cabbages!!

    Govt should buy up open market housing for Social housing.
    At least 2 million of them.
    The UK needs to end the alleged needs based system of social housing allocation.

    British nationals should always receive precedence even if a non-British national is next on the list.
    Only when no British nationals are on the list should others be offered social housing.

    Hopefully that will NEVER occur so that foreign nationals have to use the PRS.


    The leader of Norwich City Council ( wage well in excess of £100k ) lives in a council house on a subsidized rent, stinks doesn't it, I also understand that the leader of one of the top unions also lives in a subsidized council house because he doesn't believe in home ownership, so thereby blocking homes to those families that need them, that's labour for you.

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    i see no need for social housing--its a giant scam where peers mps etc get subsidized accommodation and taxpayer funded jobs

    only subsidy should be uc and housing should not be for life

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    Actually I do not agree with this rage against vulnerable people as tenants: I have been in this landlord game since I was 20, but only recently accepted a homeless tenant. He would not give up his dog, and slept in his car to keep it, and i have given him a chance. Three months in, rent is paid, first house inspection showed the house is a clean and beautiful as the day they moved in, and he with, an address he found a job: low paying menial, but a job.

    I have been explicit if he screws up, he will go, the rent is yielding 11% and yes my property manager does have to go through everything, it seems, three times more with him, but my profit is there, and I am going to buy another 4- 6 in the area and see how it goes. I am not a social landlord, but I don't need to be an A***ehole either. Provide nice properties, do repairs quickly, treat people as you want to be treated. Evict if you have to.

    • 27 October 2020 11:13 AM

    Absolute twaddle you talk.

    You have just been lucky.
    Wait until you have been a victim of one of these a###holes then you'll change your tune.

    Obviously I hope your luck holds out but you do need to plan for being a victim.

    Providing you can cover the losses these tenant types can cause then you should be OK.

    But please don't ascribe your experiences as a catch all for why we LL should take the sane risks as you are CHOOSING to do

    We choose to operate differently from you mostly because of our experiences.

    We sincerely hope you don't suffer as we have which is why we say

    No DSS!!


    You have been very lucky lady, there might be the odd exception but they are few and far between, experience proves this to be true, we landlords are not charities, leave the vulnerable to the council is the best advice.

    • 27 October 2020 16:02 PM

    Lucky, lucky lady. Very.
    I would happily bet it will not last for long.

    Good Luck!


    I used to be a very benevolent LL for DHSS people. Really good. Then one day I took in a professional bad tenant! He drove out all the other tenants and he was just rotten. He had the "caring"council on his side. I could not get him out.
    So, I sold the property cheap with him in it : to the most evil landlord in history: untouchable: gives orders to sidekicks to have knees capped etc!
    Nothing could be proven!
    Result: the are lost a great and caring LL and gained yet more lettings for a scumbag!
    Other result: scum tenant not seen for dust as he ran away!
    You are living in dreamland - as I once was! Wait till you get a bad one and it takes ages to get him out!

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    Shelter is very good at the Statistics just counting numbers, so what are they doing to help ?, can they give the £15m tax payers money they get from Government for free to the Local Authorities specifically to help house the Homeless seen as they don't do it themselves. Why not tax the £60m approx income they get @ 40% tax like the tax we have to pay and give that to LA as well that would Help the Homeless. Then Rishi Sunak could make Rental Income free of tax then we could supply the cheapest Accommodation ever know, every let affordable for the Tenants they love, so step up to the mark, even compete with the Council who don't have to pay tax.

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    Their main aim is to indulge in sanctimony! They do nothing positive: just complain!


    In the long run they just make life worse for the very people that they are supposed to be representing , but I expect most of their staff are fresh out of university, zero common sense

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    All landlords should refuse homeless people! It’s a problem for the government!

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    Is it not time for Shelter to get involved in the building and renting of houses for the homeless and put their money where their mouth is rather than complaining and blaming others for their declared problem


    Philip mate, while I agree, I have to point out that you have it all wrong, shelter use their money collected to actually house people ? no no no , the money they collect is to pay the excessive wages of their staff, noises in troughs.

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    • 03 November 2020 20:51 PM

    Shelter should start lobbying Govt to buy properties for Social housing on the open market.
    Then Councils can have all the expense of provisioning such properties and they would also gain any profits out of the social lettings😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀😀
    I'm sure local Council Tax payers will be delighted that the feckless are housed in cheap rent properties.
    Not that it will bother the tenants as they will all be receiving HB and C Tax support.

    Still at least private LL could be shot of all the DSS wasters.

    All those on HB should be in social housing.

    A mass Govt investment in social housing is required.

    Buying on the open market is the quickest way to achieve this.
    I have 4 flats ready to sell to the Council at top market prices.

    Mind you it would p### off the neighbours finding they are sharing the block with DSS types................nice!!!?

    But Govt wants me gone.............more than happy to go at top retail price selling to the Council.


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